funeral coffee

the kitchen is ever dark, and cold, and cave-like, and sombre.
starting the fire, on gas or in the cooking range.
the quiet determinism of those present in the house for the morning.
the smell of sadness, the unspoken collectiveness of all people waiting.
the setting-up of the pots, the pouring of water, the measuring of coffee.
the gradual heating of the space and increasing hissing of the water.
then waiting. there’s bread to be cut, cheese to be broken, potato salad to be placed in the serving-bowls, heaps of plates and crowds of cups to be arranged on the table.
adding the coffee to the just-boiled water. off, off the heat now, wait for the five seconds, strain the grounds, pour into serving jugs.
the smell fills the air, adding fragrance to the sobriety.
people arrive in the large room, the quiet rumble of subdued conversation, the muttering of condolences, the sharing of sugar and milk.
the silent fragrances of fir and chrysanthemums, and roses from the barn temporarily converted into a send-off parlour, where the dear departed regally rests in their coffin.
the social weaving of the relatives, and the not-so-related, the renewal of contacts, the cold shoulders united by common courtesy.
the bitter taste of the dark liquid, of the memories, of a hole in the universe just ripped open.
the time stands still.
funeral coffee.

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